Bobby Poe, a former rock 'n' roll musician who became an influential music insider and manager, died Jan. 22 at the age of 77. According to Variety, Poe died of a blood clot in Vinita, Okla., the small town where he was born.
After performing with a number of rockabilly musicians, including Big Al Downing, during his youth, Poe rose to fame in the '50s with Bobby Poe and the Poe Kats, best known for recording (can be found on her early Capitol Records recordings, including the Rockabilly classic "Let's Have A Party") and touring with Wanda Jackson.
Bobby Poe and The Poe Kats got the attention of Sam Phillips of Sun Records with their first recorded track, "Rock and Roll Record Girl". Based on the music of the old standard "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy", "Rock and Roll Record Girl" was at first blocked from release by Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose because of that fact. By the time all of the legal hurdles were cleared, Sam Phillips was no longer interested in releasing the track. Instead, Dallas, Texas radio personality Jim Lowe stepped in and released the single on his White Rock Records label. "Rock and Roll Record Girl" backed with "Rock and Roll Boogie" became a #1 single in the state of Texas.
After one more single for Jim Lowe's White Rock Records entitled "Piano Nellie", under the name of Bobby Brant and The Rhythm Rockers, Bobby Poe gave up his career as an artist to become an artist manager. He took on clients including the Chartbusters, who had a breakout hit single in 1964 with "She's the One".
In the late '60s, Poe introduced a number of tip sheets for radio stations and industry insiders. He built a convention around his most famous tip sheet, Pop Music Survey, an annual event that regularly featured appearances by a who's who of talent and management within the entertainment industry.
After his "official" retirement in 1996, in 1999 he created The Grand Grove Opry in Grove, Oklahoma. This music theater showcased local and national Country music talent and shows were broadcast weekly on KITO radio in Vinita, Oklahoma. After new owners bought the Opry building, Mr. Poe continued to promote Country music concerts until 2005.